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Mitrani, J.L. (1994). On Adhesive Pseudo-Object Relations—Part I: Theory. Contemp. Psychoanal., 30:348-366.
    

(1994). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 30:348-366

On Adhesive Pseudo-Object Relations—Part I: Theory

Judith L. Mitrani, Ph.D.

Staring into nothingess since time began,

There and yet not there she stood.

In a world of dreams, shadows, and fantasy,

Nothing more complex than color and indiscernible sound.

With the look of an angel no doubt,

But also without the ability to love or

Feel anything more complex than the sensation of cat's fur

Against her face.

[Donna Williams Nobody Nowhere ]

THE CONCEPT OF 'ADHESIVE IDENTIFICATION' was first described by Bick (1968), (1986), further developed by Meltzer (1975a), (1975b) and later extended by Tustin (1972), (1980), (1981), (1984), (1984), (1986) ; all owing to refinements in the psychoanalytic method of infant observation and child analysis, particularly the work with autistic children. In her seminal paper, Bick (1968) alluded to a more primitive type of 'narcissistic identification' developmentally preceding that which is implied in Klein's theory of projective identification. Her model for this very early form of 'identification' has provoked some workers to revise their psychoanalytic thinking, inspiring them to begin charting yet another dimension of object relations which had previously been little explored; a process "in which the idea of 'getting into' is replaced by that of 'getting in contact with'. This process is very archaic and always appears linked to an object of psychic reality equivalent to the skin " (Etchegoyen, 1991p. 574).

In this, the first of a pair of papers, I will review the work of Bick and others on adhesive identification, exploring the concept of the 'psychic skin' and its function with respect to the development of normal/narcissistic object relations.

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